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The Humboldt Lab Dahlem

The Humboldt Lab Dahlem (2012 through 2015) was a project of the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation) in cooperation with the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation). Conceived as an experimental rehearsal room, it was specifically geared towards preparing organizers for the exhibitions in the future Humboldt-Forum.

The Humboldt Lab contributed to and enriched the plans put forward by the Ethnologisches Museum (Ethnological Museum) and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst (Asian Art Museum), Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin), by proposing its own set of specific questions and coming up with innovative solutions.

The purpose was to maximize the enormous potential presented by the relocation of the two Dahlem-based museums to the reconstructed Berlin Palace. The Humboldt Lab thus enabled a team of museum curators, designers, artists, and scholars to work closely together.

The program for the future, funded with 4.125 million euros, facilitated the realization of more than 30 projects in total, with about 300 participants, in the form of exhibitions, symposia, talks, events and artistic interventions. These inspired numerous, often controversial, discussions and promoted the development of international networks. They also brought with them a wide variety of practical results in terms of the planning of exhibitions in the future Humboldt-Forum by the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst, as well as enabling the public at the seven Probebühnen (rehearsal stages) to participate directly.

The Humboldt Lab reacted promptly, and with a clear focus, to outstanding questions concerning the planning of the Humboldt-Forum. It did this in various ways: in the shape of preliminary studies and through the sensitization of those involved both in the planning and in the projects themselves. During this process the question repeatedly arose as to how far the results would have long-term applicability for the Humboldt-Forum and also for other institutions. One thing on which the active participants and many observers agreed on was: the Humboldt Lab’s performance cannot be measured purely on the basis of concrete, often very specific results, but should be measured also, and especially, on the basis of its open working methods in a heterogeneous context, which often rely on international cooperation. In that sense the Humboldt Lab certainly serves as a model, especially for the Humboldt-Forum. Because only as an open and lively interactive space that permits criticism and transformation, can the Forum live up to its own self-imposed goals.

Steering committee

The Humboldt Lab Dahlem was guided by an international steering committee that decided on the projects every half-year. Its members were:

Prof. Dr. Hartwig Fischer

Director General, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Dresden
Hartwig Fischer took up the post of director general at the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden in 2012. From 2006 to 2012 he was director of the Museum Folkwang, Essen, and from 2001 to 2006 conservator of 19th-century art and art from the high-modern period at the Kunstmuseum Basel, where he started off working as a museum research associate.

Stefan Kaegi

Regisseur, director, co-founder of the label Rimini Protokoll, Rimini Protokoll, Berlin
Stefan Kaegi produces all manner of documentary theatre performances, audio dramas, and performances in urban spaces. Their conceptual, site-specific approach often consists in incorporating ‘experts of reality’ into the production process. Kaegi is largely active under the label Rimini Protokoll, which has garnered great critical acclaim by winning the Theaterpreis Faust, the Europe Prize New Realities in Theatre, and the Silver Lion at the Theatre Biennale in Venice. In 2010 Stefan Kaegi received the Routes Award for Cultural Diversity from the ECF.

Koyo Kouoh

Curator and cultural producer, Raw Material Company, Dakar, SN
Koyo Kouoh is an independent exhibition maker and cultural producer. She is the founder and artistic director of RAW MATERIAL COMPANY, a center for art, knowledge and society in Dakar. Besides a sustained theoretical and exhibition program at Raw Material Company, she maintains a dynamic curatorial activity beyond the African borders. Among numerous international exhibitions Kouoh has served as agent to Carolyn Christov-Barkagiev's d(OCUMENTA) 13. She is currently working on the first curatorial survey of the work of seminal Senegalese artist Issa Samb, looking at process driven artistic practices in Africa from 1960's to 1980's.

Prof. Dr. Hermann Parzinger

President, Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin
Hermann Parzinger has been president of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz since 2008 and honorary professor of prehistoric archaeology at the FU Berlin since 1996. From 1990 onwards he was active in various capacities for the German Archaeological Institute, which he subsequently headed from 2003 to 2008. A renowned scholar in prehistory and ancient history, his awards include the German Research Foundation’s Leibniz Prize, the order Pour le mérite for the sciences and arts, as well as the Grand Merit Cross with Star of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Jette Sandahl

Copenhagen, DK
Jette Sandahl holds a number of offices in the international museum world, and speaks, writes and publishes within the broad museological field.
She came to the museum profession after more than a decade of university study, teaching and research within the areas of psychology and psychoanalysis. She has been the founding director for two pioneering new museums, the Women’s Museum of Denmark and the Världskulturmuseet (National Museum of World Cultures) in Göteburg, Sweden. Jette Sandahl has served as Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs at the National Museum of Denmark, and as Director Experience at Te Papa Tongarewa National Museum of New Zealand. Most recently, she was director of the Museum of Copenhagen. She has been part of the formation of new paradigms for museums as platforms for empowerment and cultural participation, for democratic dialogue and social justice.

Dr. Juri Steiner

Curator, Lausanne, CH
Juri Steiner began his curatorial career in 1993 as a free-lance curator for the Kunsthaus Zürich in Switzerland. There followed a string of major projects for the Swiss national exhibition Expo.02, the rebirth of the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich in 2004, and the Swiss pavilion at EXPO 2005 in Aichi, Japan. From 2007 to 2010 Steiner served as director of the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern. One of his current projects is the planning of the hundredth anniversary of Dada in 2016; he is currently also co-curator at the Centre Dürrenmatt in Neuchâtel and the Swiss National Museum.

Hortensia Völckers

Chairperson and artistic director, German Federal Cultural Foundation, Berlin/Halle
Hortensia Völckers has been artistic director and board member of the German Federal Cultural Foundation in Halle (an der Saale) since 2002. Working with the German Federal Cultural Foundation, she has developed numerous programmes promoting international cultural exchange, contemporary dance in Germany, and exploring socially important issues such as migration, urban depopulation, the culture of sustainability, and the future of work. From 1995 to 1997 she was a member of the team of artistic directors for documenta X in Kassel, after which she was entrusted with the task of directing the Wiener Festwochen until 2001.


Martin Heller, content planning for the Humboldt-Forum
Prof. Dr. Viola König, Director, Ethnologisches Museum, Staatliche Museen Berlin
Prof. Dr. Klaas Ruitenbeek, Director, Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Staatliche Museen Berlin
Agnes Wegner, Managing director of the Humboldt Lab Dahlem


Agnes Wegner, Managing director
Carolin Nüser, Assistant to managing director and Communications
Viktoria Brüggemann, Communications assistant
Nadine Ney, Technical coordinator
Andrea Schubert, Project administrator, Contract management, Financial controlling
Dr. Andrea Scholz, Research assistant